September 16, 2022
Adams Administration Seizing Once-in-a-Generation Opportunity to Speed Up Long-Term Fix for City-Owned Section
Corridor-Wide Visioning Will Explore Potential Improvements to North and South Sections of BQE, Identify Opportunities to Reconnect Communities Divided by Highway
Community Visioning Council Will Advise on Engagement Process to Empower Residents, Ensure an Inclusive Process
DOT to Continue Urgent Interim Repairs on Triple Cantilever Section Along With Ongoing Sophisticated Monitoring and Enforcement
NEW YORK – New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) Commissioner Ydanis Rodriguez today outlined the community engagement process that will inform the administration’s effort to tackle long-standing issues with the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (BQE) with an expedited, long-term fix for the city-owned section from Atlantic Avenue to Sands Street and a concrete plan to explore options for improving the BQE corridors in Brooklyn to the north and south, reconnecting communities needlessly divided by the creation of the highway.
The administration will kick off two parallel public engagement efforts this month. The “BQE Central” project engagement will inform design for the city-owned section of the BQE, including the triple cantilever. Construction on this section will start within five years. The “BQE North and South” project engagement will identify strategies to reconnect communities north of Sands Street to the Kosciusko Bridge and south of Atlantic Avenue to the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge that have been left out of previous BQE engagement processes. With federal funds newly available through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Adams administration is taking advantage of a once-in-a-generation opportunity to fund this much-needed work on the BQE.
“It’s time to take a new approach to the BQE and ‘Get Stuff Done,’” said Mayor Adams. “Our administration is seizing a once-in-a-generation opportunity to partner with communities and develop a bold vision for a safe and resilient BQE. Together, we are finally confronting the racism built into our infrastructure and putting equity front and center to modernize this vital transportation artery now.”
“The Adams administration is tackling the inequity in our built environment across the BQE corridor, and we are getting to work immediately,” said Deputy Mayor for Operations Meera Joshi. “Repairing the wrongs of the BQE is one of the most complex and necessary infrastructure projects of our nation, and we will not waste time, money, community patience, or the once-in-a-generation opportunity to use increased federal infrastructure dollars to get the job done right.”
“We must reckon with the harm these 20th-century highways have caused communities of color in New York City,” said NYCDOT Commissioner Rodriguez. “While we undertake the BQE Central project, we will ensure we are also planning how best to reconnect other neighborhoods that have been split apart by this highway, from Bay Ridge to Greenpoint.”
Under the Adams administration’s new approach— the BQE Central project — the city will immediately begin work on a necessary, long-term fix for the stretch of the BQE between Atlantic Avenue and Sands Street, saving hundreds of millions of dollars that would have been spent to delay long-term repairs for two decades. First built in the mid-1940s, this corridor carries more than 130,000 vehicles daily, including 13,000 trucks. NYCDOT and the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) will work closely with federal partners to advance the BQE Central long-term fix.
NYCDOT continues to make near-term interim repairs to this section scheduled for 2023 to ensure it remains safe. Monitoring of the triple cantilever also continues through a combination of regular, in-person inspections and remote tracking with sensors placed on the structure. NYCDOT will also deploy a nation-leading automated enforcement program for overweight trucks, using weigh-in-motion technology to ticket these illegal vehicles that stress the structure.
BQE North and South
NYCDOT will simultaneously embark on a community outreach process and build on already-completed community planning to develop designs for reuniting communities north and south of the BQE by creating public spaces like parks and plaza and providing new mobility options for commuting, recreation, and commerce. These communities have suffered for decades from increased traffic pollution and road safety risks after being divided by the highway.
As the north and south sections of the BQE are state-owned property, the NYCDOT will continue to engage with NYSDOT to create a partnership that can bring about real and valuable change. NYCDOT will also work on short-term fixes to improve the safety and quality of life of communities on either side of the corridor.
Community engagement will include in-person and remote public workshops beginning in September as well as a public survey, pop-up outreach in neighborhoods along the entire BQE corridor, meetings with community stakeholder groups, and updated online resources. The processes are designed to invite a wide range of voices to work towards projects that improve communities while prioritizing technical and fiscal feasibility.
Funding will be made available to community-based organizations to engage underrepresented voices at the grassroots level. These engagement resources for community-based organizations will prioritize work that promotes equitable access to visioning through tailored events and activities, grassroots information-sharing and feedback, and individual supports for participation in visioning processes, including for childcare, food, and transportation. Funding will be prioritized for groups with community ties, demonstrated experience in mobilizing their constituencies, and multilingual capacity. An application will be released later in September.
Additionally, NYCDOT is planning to bring on community engagement specialists to lead the visioning process corridor-wide, including engineering firm WSP USA Inc., design and public space studio WXY Architecture and Urban Design, and inclusive innovation agency 3x3. NYCDOT also retained the Triple Cantilever Joint Venture for design and planning for BQE Central, led in partnership by AECOM USA, Inc. and Parsons Transportation Group of New York, Inc., and working with AKRF, Inc., Bjarke Ingels Group, Fitzgerald and Halliday, Inc., SCAPE Landscape Architecture, and others.
BQE Community Visioning Council
The Adams administration is launching a BQE Community Visioning Council (CVC) to advise NYCDOT on engagement content and strategies, meeting on a regular basis throughout the visioning process to discuss emerging concerns, plan for future engagement, analyze information from previous engagement, and share feedback. The administration is encouraging applications from those who live or work within geographic areas along the corridor, as well as those affiliated with small businesses and the freight, trucking, and manufacturing industries, the New York City Housing Authority, or transportation and environmental justice advocacy. NYCDOT will include one representative per organization, with the goal of developing a diverse membership.
The CVC will work in partnership with the city to ensure an effective, responsive, and equitable visioning process for participants. Applications will be accepted until September 29, 2022, at 11:59 PM EST. NYCDOT will inform selected applicants and publish the list of the CVC members. The application is available online.